« PreviousContinue »
who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of nature;' still he will tell you, that, as the Sun and the Moon have been apparent from the beginning, to every man endowed with eyesight, so there are cardinal truths in the firmament of divine revelation, to which every enlightened mind, in all ages, has cordially subscribed. But, oh! were Christians, under the power of a docile spirit, only once brought to bestow but the same patience of research on that blessed Book, which the astronomer, and naturalist, or geologist, have done upon the world of Nature, then would they serve their generation with superior effect indeed, and leave discoveries behind them too, which their successors might follow up, when even these heavens and this earth were no
The discovery of only one fixed star interests the world, and points the telescope to the same spot, in every land where it is known to be visible; but Christians in general, though living under a finer light, and placed in more favourable circumstances, are, alas ! yet far from discovering, as they ought, a deeper and more general sympathy for discovery, in their appropriate sphere of research. When that day arrives, and arrive it will, benefits will accrue to man, infinitely superior to any which have resulted, from the most splendid secret that has ever been evolved from the firmament of heaven, or the bowels of the earth; and then will men say—“ Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Meanwhile, such a spirit, if regulated by appropriate re
verence, and caution, and patience, or, as the Scriptures themselves would express it, in one word, by the · fear of the Lord, would certainly lead to farther discovery of the hidden wonders' in divine revelation; which, even after all that have been observed, seem to be still as numerous as the stars of heaven. Then, too, would many a Christian find it not impossible to give various instances in proof, “ that as the north star, though it be less luminous than many others, yet, by reason of its position, doth better guide the pilot than even the moon herself; so are there some texts in Scripture which, though less conspicuous in themselves, are, by reason of their relation to a context, more instructive than other more radiant passages.
Should any reader, then, be in pursuit of this “ ра. rent idea in morals, this matrix of a better order of things," let him feel no disappointment, though he should hear both philosophy and ethics say, it is not in us—or human sagacity, it is not in me; for, after all, perhaps he may find it within the narrow compass of a single human dwelling, where the Parent has lived from the beginning. And what if this parent idea should have been unfolded, with force and perspicuity, in what God himself hath said, respecting this singular little group of immortal beings? At all events, notwithstanding their many imperfections, by the time that the reader has finished these pages, perhaps he will agree with the writer, that, however slender the analogy, when once the analogy which does exist, between this small and unpretending Domestic
The Honourable Robert Boyle.
Constitution and the Divine Government itself, is more deeply studied, and habitually regarded, we shall then, and not till then, be more completely reconciled to God, to nature, and ourselves. In the present age, much has been said, and
perhaps as much written, respecting improvements in Society, with comparatively but slender reference to the neglect of Parental Obligations, and the consequent abatement of Parental Authority-evils for which, by the will of God, Parents alone are responsible, and which they alone can rectify or remove. Every inquiry into faction and disorder, degeneracy in morals and increase of crime, must, of necessity, prove essentially defective, which does not embrace them, and the fulfilment or neglect of their obligations; for to whatever other expedients men may betake themselves, it is from the Parents, as such, themselves alone, over the broad surface of a city or a nation, that the restorative or remedy is to be sought and found.
Institutions may be formed in aid of their neglect, and an artificial state of society may, for a time, seem to be very pleasing, more especially since it is of man's devising ; but however kind in its intention, and benevolent in its aspect, all such aid will, in the end, only increase the appetite for help, where help is noxious, whenever it exceeds advice and warning.
Christianity, in its progress, it is true, has, in every land, whether civilized or savage, to fight every inch of its way; but still it comports with enlightened and impartial observation, that in the degeneracy or neglect of domestic duty, and the relaxation of parental authority, we see the most certain tokens of a nation approaching the brink of ruin, and the day of just retribution.
Before this neglect and relaxation, the huge monuments of commercial enterprise and art, the luxurious plenty of refined life, and the substantial enjoyments of all inferior ranks, will be swept away. Education as such, if by this is meant purchased tuition, of whatever description, or improvements in education, could not save such a people. The School of Learning and the School of Arts must prove alike in vain.
The bands of human society, which no human legislation can supply, and for which human sagacity, at its full stretch, can devise no expedient, are, in such a case, loosened. What then, though every thing which can more speedily enlighten the infant mind, or regulate the more advanced periods of youth and manhood, be proposed? What though every thing which can profitably employ the vacant hour of the artisan be devised ? Nay, what though methods are adopted with a view to the advancement of the kingdom of God, both abroad and at home? Does that nation forget, or seem to forget, all the while, not only that we are a governed race, but that by certain fixed principles and general laws we are governed by the Almighty ?
Let but one only of these be disdained, or even forgotten--say, the imperious, and unchanging, and universal obligations of its domestic circle ; then in vain shall that people apply many medicines—in vain devise prompt and efficient restoratives—in vain begin with the infant only, in order to banish the long-formed habits of the man. The cruel, or careless, or unprincipled devourers of the country's vital interests, are to be found neither in prisons nor in banishment, but below the domestic roof; and while they there remain, and there disdain, or only neglect their obligations ; in spite of improvements in prison discipline, and continual transportation ; in spite of the tread-wheel and the gibbet; nay, in spite of schemes formed in aid of parental negligence, though all the ingenuity which belongs to human benevolence should never grow weary of devising and applying them ; still juvenile delinquency goes on apace; the criminal calendar doubles; and the charge of the Judge to the grand jury, is found, at the next assize, to have been only as water spilt upon the ground. His advice might be extolled, and even imbibed by some, but the particeps criminis was not present; perhaps I should rather say, causa latet, vis est notissima.
In such a melancholy state of things, however, it is very far from being only the lower, or the lowest orders, who are chargeable with delinquency or neglect. When society has been compared to a pillar, it is true, they have been considered as its base or support. But let Family Economy or Parental Obli. gations be neglected, what can wealth or sagacity avail? Then will every order of society prove alike infirm : the base, the shaft, and its capital, are seen in equal progress to decay; and if they are not levelled by the lightning of divine indignation, all alike must crumble into ruin.
If, therefore, at any period, the low and high, the rich and poor together, once ill of the same disease, should descend to one common grave, a serious and important question arises out of such a spectacle : From whence has the evil originated ? I need not ask whether the Children, or even the youth, have ruined